Hard Working Hero (Hard Working Hero 1)

Page 26

“You really have no clue. You don't know shit.”
Oliver crooks his jaw as his back snaps straight. “I know more than you think.” He takes a big step forward, his eyes turning to slits. “I don't need to know you for years to see you hate being challenged. You think the world can be bought away. That if a problem comes up, your daddy will race in with a pocket full of cash and rescue you. You don't want to be held accountable for your own actions. Even if they're good.”
“Fuck you,” I bark harshly. “How dare you try to label me as some spoiled brat. You're the one who fawns over money. Why else would you go out of your way to get my father to hire you? It's because you want to be big, you want to be powerful and have people like my father begging you for your business. I'm not stupid, Oliver, so stop trying to paint me like I am.”
“Is that what you think? You think all I care about is money?”
“I know it. Why else would you listen to my father and have me work with you? It's because you care about your name, you care about what my father says about you.”
“You're wrong,” he says, his voice seething with temped anger. “I built my business from the ground up. I deserve to get noticed.”
“Do you? You think getting noticed means high profile people know your name? Because it doesn't. Your name means nothing if I don't want it to. Your name could be as good as dead if you step wrong. One word to my father about this and he'll ruin you.”
“Is that a threat?” he asks.
“I'm not going to stand here and let you talk to me like this. You act like we're friends. Do you really think this is going to go anywhere? Is that what your problem is? You can't handle the fact that you're not good enough for me. This,” I say, flinging a finger between us, “was never going to happen.” I instantly feel regret as the words spill out of my mouth.
His eyes ignite with hurt and pain, then quickly get doused by anger. But I'm too stubborn to take them back. I can't explain how hard it is to let people in. It's so much easier to push people away than feel the fear of getting hurt.
I'm too broken inside to let him see me. I can't fix what I can't touch, and neither can he. I know he wants me to let him in, I'm just not sure I'll ever truly be ready for that.
Tilting his head, Oliver's lips pull taut. “You want to play this game, fine. You said it yourself, your job's done. So go, get the hell out of here.” He throws his arm to the side, and points at the door.
“What?” I ask, my voice fluttering out on an uneven gust of air.
“You heard me, I said get out. You already gave up once, I'm not going to keep doing this. You want out, here it is.”
“It's not up to you.”
“Yes it is. This is my business, not your father's, not yours—mine. And now I'm telling you to get the hell out of here. I don't need you here, I never did.”
That one hurt. If he didn't need me, why did he seek me out? If he didn't need me, why did he even bother to try?
Why are you pushing him away? I ask myself.
I can see exactly what I've done. I can see how I keep poking the bear. I honestly don't even really know why I made such a fuss about him complimenting the paint. It's almost a reflex at this point I don't know how to control. Someone tries to climb my wall, and when they get too close to the top, I kick them back down.
I'm sorry! I know I'm wrong! The words are in my head, but I can't get them out.
I can't stop the train I put in motion. “Fine.” Throwing my arms up, I whip around and storm to the door. “I hope you're proud of yourself.”
“I am.” Oliver's hands fall to his hips as his brows furrow.
I huff under my breath as I grab the handle for the door and slam it shut behind me.
It doesn't matter how wrong I know I am, because I know what's holding me back. I'm afraid.
I'm afraid of being happy.
Please leave your message. . .
I've called her a few times over the past couple of days, but she isn't answering or returning any of my text messages. I've felt really bad about how things ended at the house the other day, and I'm trying to apologize. I want to make it right.
But what's right for her? I just don't know.